My stumbling progression towards life as a mad aunt with too many dachshunds.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Swine Fever Fall Out: Part 1, Shoreditch Whorebitch
‘Oh my GOD, Alice,’ Cora snapped at me, putting down her cake fork in irritation, ‘can’t you just SHUT UP about fucking FREDDIE for ONE MINUTE while I eat my éclair? You haven’t talked about anything else for the last hour, you’re OBSESSED.’ I opened my mouth to protest, but she waggled a stern finger at me. ‘I think Becky and those people that read your blog are right. You have a crush on him - as wrong as that may be - and until you admit it I don’t want to hear any more about him.’ She raised her fork again and shoveled in her mouthful of fresh cream and choux pastry with a vehemence I found almost frightening.
I stared at her, stunned and horrified by the et tu Brute-ness of it all. It was Wednesday afternoon last week, and we were in Maison Bertaux in Soho, having both escaped from work early to eat our favourite chocolate éclairs. This was supposed to be a safe place, full of understanding and free of criticism. Still, thinking about it, I realised that I really had talked about nothing else. I hadn’t told her about Becky’s new ‘boyfriend’, Paul, or mentioned my new Mango dress, or gossiped about Jamie’s dinner with his ex-girlfriend. I hadn’t even said that I’d got asked out on a date by a reasonably promising man in Whole Foods on Sunday afternoon, even though that was a genuinely funny story, unlike the one I was now telling about Freddie and his probably unintentional failure to thank me for hanging up his washing on Sunday.
And, let’s face it, this wasn’t the first complaint I’d had. Liz, at work, had rolled her eyes at me during our Monday morning coffee break, remarking with a sigh, as I began the story of Saturday evening, ‘Oh dear. Freddie again.’ Even Mad Mary seemed to have gathered that I was in some way connected with a man whose name began with an F, a sure sign that he’s been mentioned much too often in the workplace.
‘You’re right,’ I conceded, poking at the chocolate topping. ‘I’m sorry, let’s talk about something else.’ We did, and it was a very nice afternoon tea, but I went home feeling uneasy and irritable, the more so as I realised shortly before we finished our third pot of tea that I had a spot brewing on my left cheek. Finding the house empty, I decided to combat this new threat with an early night, so I showered and Yin Yanged as soon as I’d eaten dinner. Getting out of the shower, it occurred to me that I ought to drink some of Dr Stuart’s Skin Purify tea, too; a theory confirmed by a glimpse of the growing blemish in the steamy mirror.
With this in mind, I wrapped myself hastily in my (slightly too small) towel, and ran down the stairs, hair dripping in wet coils over my face, eyes piggy with shower-water and surrounded by smudgy mascara, skin cleansed and shiny, spot a-glow and – ‘Hello, Alice! This is Neenee.’ There, in the living room, looking at me with loathsome amusement on their faces, were Freddie and an immaculately made-up female with great shoes and, it would seem, an unbelievably awful name, whom I could only imagine was ‘some girl from Shoreditch’.
‘Hi Alice’, said ‘Neenee’ holding out a hand on which each fingernail had a different, arty, polish-pattern. ‘Oh – gosh – um – towel –‘ I stuttered pathetically, wanting desperately to die. ‘I just came down for some tea, I’ll get out of your way.’ ‘Neenee’ smiled coldly, Freddie grinned happily. I hurried off into the kitchen, leaving them to snuggle up hatefully on the sofa, and tremblingly boiled the kettle whilst also trying to arrange my hair to cover the spot.
Then, taking a deep breath, I went back through the living room, hoping to get away with muttering good night and dashing back up the stairs. Nope. ‘How was your day, Alice?’ Freddie asked, arm around Neenee’s shoulders. ‘Fine’, I said, wishing he wouldn’t look at me, ‘yours?’ ‘Yeah’, he began, but was immediately interrupted. ‘Sorry, darling,’ ‘Neenee’ said, suddenly, touching his face in a manner that made me want to retch, ‘Alice, your leg’s bleeding’. I looked down. Oh yes. So it was. Just below the knee. ‘Must’ve cut it shaving. ‘ I shrugged, miserably, ‘oh dear’. She looked at me pityingly. ‘Shaving? You should really wax, so much better.’
I nodded and smiled and, feeling sick with embarrassment, walked bloodily upstairs. Immediately I called Cora and whispered the awful news to her. ‘Oh my GOD,’ she squealed back, ‘that sounds DIRE. What a Shoreditch Whorebitch! And who the fuck’s called NEENEE?’ Gales of laughter. ‘Well, Alice, thank God you DON’T fancy him, anyway.’ A long, long pause.
‘Thing is, Cora, I think I do.’